In a significant development, the UK government has today written to Comcast and Sky to tell them it doesn’t think the former’s $31BN proposed acquisition of Sky raises public interest concerns.

The UK government did not give such blessing to Fox’s bid for Sky and that attempted acquisition has become bogged down in regulatory concerns but is still on-going. The UK’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock, today issued the following statement.

“On 7 May 2018, Comcast Corporation formally notified the European Commission of its intention to acquire the entire issued share capital of Sky plc. Under section 58 of the Enterprise Act 2002 (“the Act”), the Secretary of State has the powers to intervene in certain media mergers on public interest grounds.

Having reviewed the relevant evidence available, I can confirm that I have today written to the parties to inform them that I am minded not to issue an EIN [European Intervention Notice] on the basis that the proposed merger does not raise concerns in relation to public interest considerations which would meet the threshold for intervention.

This is a quasi-judicial decision and I am required to make my decision independently, following a process that is scrupulously fair and impartial, and as quickly as possible. I will now allow until 5pm on Thursday 24 May for interested parties to submit written representations, and I aim to come to a final decision on whether to intervene in the merger shortly.”

As Hancock lays out, this is only the first step in a process but the early noises are more positive than they were for Fox, whose attempted takeover of Sky has been subject to concerns over monopolisation. Stay tuned.